by Kim Lawrence
How we spend our limited free time helps determine our quality of life, but where we spend it is equally important. For some alumni, campus remains a meaningful part of their lives—where they go to get outside, exercise, reconnect, pray or find their inspiration.
Henry David Thoreau said that an early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. Jennifer (Porter) Macaulay ’92 knows this to be true. About five years ago, feeling stressed and unhealthy, Macaulay turned to campus as a place where she could walk—and eventually run—in the morning to make her physical and mental well-being a priority. “I needed both exercise and time for myself. It is so beautiful here—the vistas are both soothing and inspirational,” she says.
It’s convenient for Macaulay, too, who works as a systems librarian in the MacPháidín Library. Depending on the day, she might even scoot out at lunchtime for a quick walk. As Macaulay began to feel stronger a couple of years ago, she took up running to add more cardio to her fitness routine. One of her favorite routes is over the pedestrian bridge that crosses the pond. “The views from the bridge are amazing at different times of day,” she says. An added bonus: These outings complement Macaulay’s photography hobby.
She’s been photographing campus for about 20 years. Some of her earliest pictures are of the construction of the MacPháidín Library, and more recently, she has chronicled the teardown of the Old Student Union and the construction of the new Academic and Welcome Center, currently under way.
She most enjoys, though, taking photos of the campus’s natural beauty. “Often times, I look outside from my office and realize the sky would make for some wonderful photos—this gets me up walking or running.”
One of Macaulay’s most cherished images is from a year ago this past summer. “It was a sunrise in August. I had run up the steps leading to Donahue to try to get a photo in the early morning light. It was a peaceful and cool morning right at the start of a new semester,” she recalls of the serenity that surrounded the moment. Surely, this is a good way to begin the day.
For the past 15 years, Richard Tepper ’86 has been coming to campus by 5 a.m. for his four-mile run. Listening to ’70s or ’80s rock, the Easton resident changes his route to keep it interesting. It keeps him healthy, but his runs on campus have a meaning beyond just his physical well-being.
“My mother did not go to Stonehill, but she walked campus with her best friend of 50 years whenever she could. So, when I was a young kid, I saw that. Stonehill was her place,” he recalls.
Almost five years ago, Tepper’s mother passed away suddenly. In memory of her, he and his sister donated a memorial bench that sits right before the pedestrian bridge on the New Hall side.
No matter what route Tepper takes, he always runs by his mother’s bench, pausing for a second to touch the nameplate that honors her. He says it comforts him to have that moment and that the campus, overall, relaxes him.
“I don’t like to run on the street,’’ he says, “because I don’t trust people driving with text messaging, emails and cell phones. I feel more comfortable going into a place that’s quiet and controlled. Once you are on campus, you’re in Stonehill. It calms me down.”
One particularly memorable run, Tepper recalls, happened about three years ago, when he was running sprints on Fr. Donahue Hill Drive, the road leading to Donahue Hall. On the left-hand side heading up the hill, there was a mother fox with four babies by a den in the woods. “I just stopped and watched them,” he remembers.
His admiration for Stonehill’s campus coupled with the significance of his mother’s memorial bench has inspired Tepper to fund a campus beautification project. “I’m working with Advancement and Facilities to restore all of the memorial benches on campus. Some are beat up and weathered. We’ll replace two or three a year and rededicate them to those who passed.”
As it was to his mother, Stonehill is Tepper’s place. As he always says to classmates who haven’t been back to campus in a while, “Go. Go take a look. Take your family. Take a walk around.”
The picnic tables outside of the MacPháidín Library are a perfect place to enjoy a summer lunch. Just ask the Medina family—Alberio “Junior” ’02 and Danielle (Teixeira) ’05, along with their children, Logan and Londyn—who return to campus each year to do just that.
“We try to make it back a couple times of year to an athletic or alumni event. But one of our favorite things to do is grab lunch from Panera Bread and then head over to eat outside of the library,” says Junior.
The kids know that their mom and dad met at Stonehill, so after lunch, they like to see where their parents lived and went to class. “It’s wonderful to walk around and show Logan and Londyn all the places that we reminisce about—we bring them to Boland, where I lived freshman year, and to the athletic fields where their dad excelled at baseball,” says Danielle.
Junior, who is one of only two All-Americans in the baseball program’s history and was inducted into the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame as an individual and with the 2000 team, has already given Coach Patrick Boen ’89 a heads up that Logan plans to play for the 2028 Skyhawks.
As they stroll around campus, Junior also points out the Sports Complex, where he first met Danielle. “She was a cheerleader, so we would see each other at the 6 a.m. practice. I would hold the door open, and she would be the last one to walk in. We would always say hi and smile. I knew she was definitely someone I would marry. Of course, I didn’t know she would be the one I would marry!”
A couple of years ago, during their annual picnic, Foreign Languages Professor Jose Luis Martinez passed by and stopped to hang out with the Medinas. “This was a standout moment, such a great way to catch up with one of our professors,” recalls Junior.
Both Junior and Danielle enjoy seeing how the campus has advanced. Although a lot has changed, they agree that it is “wonderful to walk around and still feel a part of it.”
“Some of the most important relationships in our lives started at Stonehill,” says Danielle, “including our own.”
Walk of Mary
Past the Grotto, the tranquility of Rhododendron Drive, through Holy Cross Cemetery, over Feeley Bridge and the long brick walk from the Martin Institute to the foot of the Big House are a few favorite walking routes of Rev. Wilfred Raymond, C.S.C. ’67. Like Tepper, Fr. Willy, as he is known, is an early riser, most often walking to campus at 5 a.m. from his Holy Cross residence, referred to as the Barn.
“My walks make me feel more alive and refreshed. This campus is one of the most charming and naturally inspiring places,” says Fr. Willy, who serves as president of Holy Cross Family Ministries. Even in the winter, whenever possible, he navigates the black ice, snow drifts and cold temperatures to get in his walk. And when the conditions are too dangerous, he’ll head over to the W.B. Mason Stadium and walk or jog on the track.
While Fr. Willy walks for exercise, wearing a Fitbit to keep track of his steps, he has also picked up another habit from his days here as a seminarian at Holy Cross Center. “All the priests and brothers used to pray the rosary every day, often walking the property. Now I always carry my rosary beads with me, and it helps to focus my mind and heart,” he says.
This isn’t the only way that Fr. Willy honors the Blessed Mother through his walks. He has a route that he calls the Walk of Mary—passing by the many statues of her located throughout campus.
“Walk in from Route 138 and a stunningly beautiful statue of Mary graces the front of Holy Cross Cemetery. Continue to the Grotto; there she is again, with Saint Bernadette. Go up to Donahue Hall; she’s the Queen of the Summit. Head towards the Chapel of Mary, and a dynamic bronze Mary greets you. March over to Notre Dame du Lac; there is a striking Madonna and Child presiding over the parking lot,” he says.
“Walk to the other side of campus, and Mary greets you at the gate to the Holy Cross Center. Finally, go to the Peyton Center, and the largest Mary in the area dominates the circle, welcoming visitors. Just to her right is the Rosary Walk with Servant of God Patrick Peyton’s statue bidding you pause to pray the rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
His daily walks allow for prayer and reflection that keep the most important relationship at the center of his life, Fr. Willy notes: “The friendship with the Risen Lord and his Mother Mary.”
Fr. Willy’s outings also remind him of what a blessing campus is in his life, noting the sounds and sights of nature as he walks through all seasons. “I am delighted to call Stonehill my home.”